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Loyola can’t slow down Lafayette in 78-69 loss

Though in a loss, Andre Walker had an incredible game with 17 points, seven steals, six rebounds, four assists and three made 3-pointers against Lafayette.

Seven minutes into the game, the Loyola Greyhounds men’s basketball team had a 13-4 lead on the visiting Lafayette Leopards. The Greyhounds were off to a great start as they were looking for their fourth-straight victory and sixth in seven tries. They were able to hold onto that nine point lead for the next six minutes as well after two free throws by Chancellor Bernard gave them a 24-15 advantage with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half.

Then the wheels fell off the wagon and the Greyhounds spun out of control. Plagued by turnovers, the Greyhounds not only saw their nine-point lead evaporate, but it turned into a 10-point deficit by halftime as the Leopards went on 24-5 run over the final seven and a half minutes.

Things got even worse for Loyola in the second half as they went down by 15 points before mounting a tremendous comeback. That effort fell short, however, and the Greyhounds dropped the Patriot League contest 78-69.

Playing their third-straight game together as a starting five unit, when Jarred Jones, Cam Gregor, James Five, Chuck Champion and Andre Walker were out on the floor together to start the game the Greyhounds were playing stellar basketball on both ends of the court. Seniors Chancellor Barnard and Nick Gorski were fitting into the mix well too.

But the team couldn’t keep possession of the ball. They turned the ball over 10 times in the first half. Six of them came after they took a nine-point lead.

Lafayette scored 21 points off turnovers in the first half, and because they were playing in transition so much, they had 15 points in off fastbreaks and were taking lightly contested shots. Lafayette shot a resounding 60-percent from the floor in the first half.

And in the second half the Greyhounds still didn’t seem to have any answers. Lafayette shot 50-percent from the floor after halftime. The Leopards scored the first four points of the second. Loyola didn’t score until nearly three minutes ran off the clock and their first field goal of the stanza didn’t come until Andrew Kostecka nailed a 3-pointer with 15:15 remaining.

Lafayette had a 15-point lead before Kostecka’s 3-pointer. Kostecka then followed that with another triple and helped bring life into the Greyhounds. Loyola chipped back into the game slowly. With 4:14 remaining an 8-1 run got them within five points at 62-57.

Eric Stafford made two free throws to get Lafayette back ahead by seven points, but back-to-back Loyola turnovers and a 3-pointer by Paulius Zalys made it a 10-point game with 2:33 remaining. That was the moment the game seemed to become out of reach for the Greyhounds.

But Loyola still kept battling, even after another turnover turned into two made free throws by Nick Lindner and a 12-point Lafayette lead with 2:16 remaining in the game. A 3-pointer by Fives and a two-handed slam by Jarred Jones made it a three point game in the final 75 seconds of the game. Walker then stole the ball and drove inside for a shot. He drew a foul, but made only one of his two shorts. Then Lindner sunk a 3-pointer on the other end to make it a two possession game.

Loyola’s ensuing possession could not have gone worse either. They worked the ball up the court and Walker had the ball in his hands, but on his drive to the hoop with the shot clock winding down he was stopped by the Leopard defense. He had no other option but to give the ball to his nearest teammate. That happened to be Jones at the top of the key, and he had no choice but to throw up a 3-pointer. Jones’ rare 3-point attempt was way off the mark.

Lafayette made an outlet pass up the court to Stafford. He drove to the hope for the final basket. Jones stepped in front of him as if he were making a statement that even with a loss assured there would be no easy bucket allowed. He was called for an intentional foul, Stafford’s shot fell and he made both free throws for a four-point play at the end of the game to balloon their margin of victory to nine points.

Zalys led Lafayette with 17 points in the game while Stafford had 15 and Matt Klinewski had 13 points.

For Loyola, Jones had a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds, but turned the ball over six times in the game. Walker loaded up the stat sheet with 17 points, seven steals, six rebounds and four assists with three made 3-pointers in the game, but no other Greyhound was in double figures. As a team they were out-shot 56-percent to 36.9-percent from the floor.

Loyola will travel for their next two Patriot League games with games at Lehigh on Thursday and Army on Sunday. They will return home to host in-state rival Navy on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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